JP Vossen on 3 May 2008 15:15:31 -0700

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[PLUG] Ubuntu Hardy and Wubi on Windows

The latest Ubuntu just released (8.04 "Hardy") is able to use something 
called wubi, which:
* Installs Ubuntu from within Windows just like it was a Windows app
* Does NOT require hard drive partioning
* Is a dual-boot solution, not virtualized, though the loopbacked 
virtual disk does incur a slight performance hit (I can't notice it)
* Adds an "Ubuntu" option to the native NT bootloader
* Allows you to remove Ubuntu from Add/Remove Programs, just like it was 
a Windows app
* Adds a /host directory on the Ubuntu side with read-write access to 
the NTFS file system

It basically creates a big file inside the NTFS partition, sized at 
install-time, and puts all the Linux stuff inside that virtual disk.  So 
you end up with 2 Ubuntu files, a tweak to boot.ini and a c:\ubuntu 
directory on the Windows/NTFS side.  My stock install uses about 2.2G 
and since you can store and access files in the NTFS side, you probably 
don't have to worry too much about the Ubuntu disk size.  I'll probably 
try to create a symlink from ~/MyDocs to '/host/Documents and 
Settings/jp/My Documents' or something.

I just installed it on my new Dell Latitude D630 and it works great. 
Once it installed on the Windows side and rebooted I did have to hit 
ESCAPE and use the "safe graphics mode" option, to finish the install on 
the Ubuntu side, as the built-in video otherwise won't work.  After the 
second phase install and reboot the screen came up in 800x600 mode, but 
almost immediately informed me that restricted drivers were available. 
I installed those and the updates and restarted and it's working 
GREAT!!!  I haven't tested all the hardware yet, and IIRC suspend and/or 
hibernate don't work in Ubuntu under wubi.  But still...

One catch; if the NTFS side gets the dirty-bit set, Ubuntu won't boot 
and the error message is not very clear: something about being unable to 
mount the NTFS partition.  The solution is to simply allow a Windows 
boot to complete and optionally but recommended: run a scandisk.  This 
situation can and will occur when you restart and are not paying 
attention, so you miss the NT Boot loader prompt and start booting 
Windows, then hard-power-off to save time (can you guess how I know 
this?).  I bet this is going to be a really F.A.Q. with Wubi.  I plan to 
file a bug report on this; it seems like it would be possible for a 
little shim to detect this and provide a useful error.


PS--I plan on using this machine to do my 2008-05-12 preso for PLUG 
West, if anyone wants to see it in action.
JP Vossen, CISSP            |:::======|        jp{at}jpsdomain{dot}org
My Account, My Opinions     |=========|
"Microsoft Tax" = the additional hardware & yearly fees for the add-on
software required to protect Windows from its own poorly designed and
implemented self, while the overhead incidentally flattens Moore's Law.
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